‘On A Mission: Live In Madrid’ Does Indeed Rock

Courtesy: Inakustik

Courtesy: Inakustik

The annual summer concert season is officially winding down an all the kids are headed back to school.  But just because the seasons (both literal and figurative) are changing and the year is slowly winding down, the concerts don’t necessarily have to end.  Early this past May, Michael Schenker released his latest live Temple of Rock recording to the masses to enjoy any time in the form of On A Mission: Live in Madrid.  This recording, which came a little less than a year after the release of Schenker’s latest Temple of Rock album Spirit on A Mission, is worth at least one watch for fans of the former Scorpions guitarist.  That is due in part to the concert’s twenty-two song set list.  That will be discussed shortly.  The band’s stage presence throughout the concert is just as notable as the show’s set list.  This will be discussed later.  Last but hardly least of note in the recording’s presentation is the concert’s production values (I.E. its video and audio mix).  Each element is important in its own right to the recording’s overall presentation.  Altogether they make On A Mission: Live in Madrid worth at least one watch by any of Schenker’s fans and by fans of Temple of Rock.

On A Mission: Live in Madrid is not Michael Schenker’s first ever live Temple of Rock recording.  It is, though another recording that Schenker’s fans and Temple of Rock fans alike will find to be worth at least one watch.  That is due at least in part to the concert’s extensive twenty-two song set list.  The set list pulls from every era of Schenker’s career, from his days with UFO to his days as a member of Scorpions all the way up to his work with Temple of Rock.  No fewer than seven of the set’s songs come from both of Schenker’s Temple of Rock albums—Bridge The Gap (2013) and Spirit on a Mission (2015).  The other songs lift from his rich body of work including the fan favorite ‘Rock You Like a Hurricane.’  Whether for his Scorpions classics, those he recorded with UFO, or even his work with Temple of Rock, the set list in whole offers a wide variety of songs for Schenker’s fans to enjoy.  That variety of musical offerings is just one element to note in examining the overall presentation of On A Mission: Live in Madrid.  The band’s stage presence throughout the concert is just as important to note as the show’s set list.

The set list that is featured in Temple of Rock’s new live recording is important in its own right to the recording’s overall presentation.  That is because it presents a good variety of songs from Schenker’s still successful career.  It is just one of the recording’s most notable elements.  The band’s stage presence throughout the concert is just as important to note here as the concert’s set list.  Front man Doogie White (ex-Rainbow) is just as powerful in his presence as ever as he belts out hit after hit.  He impresses just as much as he chats with the audience between songs, too.  It is in those moments that he shows his prowess as a front man.  Meanwhile Schenker is just as impressive even without using any words.  His riffs and energy as he performs said riffs couples with White’s performance to give the band’s stage presence even more impact.  Drummer Herman Rarebell is just as enjoyable to watch whether keeping the time or singing the beloved Scorpions hit ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane.’  Even Francis Bucholz impresses in his own right, too.  When each man’s performance is set against that of his band mates, the end result is a performance that in whole is just as fun to watch as the set list is to take in.  It still is not the last of the recording’s key elements.  The recording’s production values are just as important to note here as the band’s stage presence (its performance) and the show’s set list.

The set list that was chosen for On A Mission: Live in Madrid and the band’s performance of said set list are both pivotal in their own right to the concert’s presentation.  While each element is important in its own right there is still one more element to note in examining the concert’s presentation.  That element is the concert’s collective production values.  Joy Eslava, the venue where the concert was recorded was a rather intimate venue.  It isn’t a club by any means.  But it is still a very intimate setting.  The ceiling is high and the orchestra area is just as close to the stage as are the venue’s multiple balconies.  What this means is that there are not many spots from which to capture the concert on camera.  It also means that the sound is just as much of a challenge to manage.  It doesn’t have much space in which to go out and dissipate.  This is all so important to note because there are those who have spoken out about the work of the concert’s camera crew in capturing the concert.  Given it would have been nice to have had more angles and for longer.  But again, the venue’s relatively intimate setting made capturing the experience slightly difficult.  And the camera crew did its best doing that given the setting.  Those who handled the concert’s audio mix (again considering the venue’s setup) should be applauded for their efforts, too.  The sound simply didn’t have time or space to spread out.  Considering the challenge that this posted the concert’s audio mix still turned out relatively impressive.  When it and the concert’s video mix were finalized and set against the concert’s set list and the band’s performance the end result of these elements’ combination is a concert that Schenker’s fans will enjoy just as much as fans of Scorpions and even UFO fans.

On A Mission: Live in Madrid, the latest live recording from Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock, is a recording that Schenker’s fans will enjoy just as much as fans of Temple of Rock, Scorpions, and UFO.  That is due in part to the concert’s extensive set list.  The set list pulls from every era of Schenker’s storied career.  The band’s collective performance of those songs makes for even more enjoyment as each man shows his years of experience through his own performance.  Altogether the band’s members make for one whole performance that takes audiences right back to that former era of bombast and more in rock and roll.  The concert’s collective audio and video mix put the finishing touch on the recording.  That is even considering the concert’s venue.  It posed its own challenges because of its setup.  But the camera crew and sound engineers met the challenge, turning out a concert that looks and sounds as best as it can in the end.  When this is set against the concert’s set list and the band’s performance thereof, the end result is yet another Temple of Rock live recording that is worth at least one watch.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on On A Mission: Live in Madrid is available online now along with all of the latest Temple of Rock news at:

 

 

Website: http://www.michaelschenkerhimself.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MichaelSchenkerRocks

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock Entertainment To Release New Archived Rainbow Concert This Spring

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

On Saturday, August 16th, 1980 the classic Rainbow lineup of Ritchie Blackmore, Don Airey, Graham Bonnett, Roger Glover, and Cozy Powell played their last live concert together under the Rainbow name. That performance was also part of the first ever rock festival to be held at England’s famed Castle Donington. Now this spring audiences can enjoy the concert in the comfort of their own home thanks to the people at Eagle Rock Entertainment.

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Rainbow: Monsters of Rock Live at Donington 1980 one Friday, April 22nd. The concert, which marked the end of an era for that incarnation of Rainbow, will be released on DVD/CD combo pack and on digital platforms. It features all of the concert’s surviving video footage and marks the first time ever that the concert’s audio has been available as a full-length standalone CD. Not only was it the last time that that incarnation of Rainbow would play together live, but it was also the final show of the band’s tour in support of its 1979 album Down To Earth. The band’s set features a number of songs from that album and material that at the time was considered older. Those songs include the likes of: ‘Since You Been Gone,’ ‘All Night Long,’ ‘Stargazer,’ ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ ‘Catch The Rainbow, ‘Eyes of the World,’ and a number of others. The band’s complete set list for the concert is noted below.

 

TRACK LISTING:

DVD:

  • Lazy

2) All Night Long

3) Catch The Rainbow

4) Eyes Of The World

5) Guitar Solo

6) Difficult To Cure

7) Will You Love Me Tomorrow

8) Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll

CD:

1) Intro / Eyes Of The World

2) Since You Been Gone

3) Stargazer

4) Catch The Rainbow

5) Lost In Hollywood / Guitar Solo

6) Difficult To Cure / Keyboard Solo

7) Drum Solo / Lost In Hollywood (reprise)

8) Lazy

9) All Night Long

10) Blues

11) Will You Love Me Tomorrow

12) Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll

 

Rainbow: Monsters of Rock Live at Donington 1980 will be released Friday, April 22nd. It will be released on DVD/CD combo pack and on digital platforms. The DVD/CD combo pack will retail for MSRP of $19.98. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock, E.A.R. Music To Release New Archived Deep Purple Concert

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/E.A.R. Music

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/E.A.R. Music

Eagle Rock Entertainment and E.A.R. Music will release another archived live Deep Purple this summer.

Eagle Rock Entertainment and E.A.R. Music will release Deep Purple: Graz 1975 on Tuesday, September 23rd. The recording, which is part of Deep Purple’s “(Overseas) Live Series,” was recorded at the Liebenauer ice rink. The rink is located just outside of the city of Graz, Austria. Graz is the second-largest city in Austria just behind Vienna. The concert features the classic MK III lineup of Richie Blackmore (guitar), David Coverdale (vocals), Glenn Hughes (bass/vocals), Jon Lord (keyboards), and Ian Paice (drums). He show was dubbed by the local press as being the “rock event of the year” at the time of the event.

The band’s eight-song performance opens with a rousing performance of its hit song ‘Burn.’ The show’s set list consists largely of songs from the band’s earlier days in which Ian Gillan handled vocal duties and Roger Glover played bass. It includes iconic songs such as ‘Smoke on the Water’ and ‘Space Truckin.’ After the band’s performance in Graz, it would go on to perform only two more shows together before guitarist Richie Blackmore would leave the band. He would later go on to form the equally iconic rock band Rainbow. American guitarist Tommy Bolin took over guitar duties after Blackmore’s departure from the band.

Deep Purple: Graz 1975 has never before been released in its entirety in any form. Its release later this month will mark the first time ever that the recording has been released in its entirety. It will be available on CD, two-disc gatefold LP, and digital audio. The show’s set list is noted below.

Track Listing:

  1. Burn
  2. Stormbringer
  3. The Gypsy
  4. Lady Double Dealer
  5. Mistreated
  6. Smoke On The Water
  7. You Fool No One
  8. Space Truckin’

 

More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt and http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews. More information on this and other releases from E.A.R. Music is available online at http://ear-music.net and http://www.facebook.com/earmusicofficial. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Dagger’s CM Debut Is Pure Rock At Its Finest

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

The self-titled debut record from The Dagger is a solid first effort for the Stockholm, Sweden-based four-piece. The Dagger isn’t the first band to ever take listeners back to rock’s golden era. But it still has done something special on its debut that other bands of its ilk (E.g. Horisont, The Sword, Gypsyhawk) have not done. What it has done on its first full effort for Century Media Records is crafted an album that exhibits one of the widest swaths of influences to date from any band of its kind. That’s one part of what makes this record one that purist metal heads will appreciate about this album. Also noteworthy about the album is its overall production values. That, too will be discussed shortly. And last but far from least are the lyrical themes that run through the album. All three factors together make The Dagger an album that any purist rocker and metal head will enjoy just as much with each listen.

The Dagger’s debut record is a good addition to the library of anyone that is a fan of The Sword, Horisont and Gypsyhawk. Much like those bands, The Dagger takes listeners back to the golden era of rock on its Century Media Records debut. As much as it carries a sound similar to those bands, it actually takes things a step further on its self-titled debut. Instead of focusing primarily on one specific classic rock sound, the members of The Dagger—Jani Kataja (vocals), Fred Estby (drums), David Blomqvist (guitar), and Tobias Cristiansson (bass)—exhibit influences from a rather wide swatch of veteran bands. Those bands include the likes of Judas Priest, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and even Deep Purple among others. Such a wide array of influences having been exhibited here, it makes the album one of those rare albums that is actually worth listening through without skipping a single song. That’s truly saying something, especially in an era when audiences seem to be increasingly downloading single tracks from the likes of iTunes instead of purchasing entire albums. Taking this into consideration, it shows that The Dagger’s debut record could very well be one that older audiences will appreciate just as much as younger audiences. To that extent, it shows great potential for this record.

The sound crafted by the members of The Dagger on the band’s self-titled debut is the most important factor in the overall enjoyment of this record. The band doesn’t stick to just one influence, even in taking listeners on a trip back in time to the golden age of rock. It exhibits all of its many classic rock influences. Just as important to the album’s success as its sound is the album’s production. The separation that was formed between The Dagger and other “modern classic rock” bands thanks to The Dagger’s extensive background of influences is made even wider thanks to the album’s production values. Painstaking efforts were made to not only bring out the band’s veteran influences, but to make the band’s album sound like it was itself a product of rock’s golden era. From Blomqvist’s powerhouse guitar playing to the almost hollow sound of the drums made popular in the 1960s and 70s to Kataja’s own vocals, and even Cristiansson’s bass work, each part was given special attention. When all four parts came together, those behind the glass exhibited expert talent, crafting an album that sounded like it came right from the era of so many great garage rock style bands. Credit is most definitely to be given in that area. It wonderfully compliments a sound from the band that is already impressive on its own.

The songs that make up The Dagger and the production values that make the album even richer are both integral parts of the album’s success and enjoyment. They are but part of the whole, though. There is still one more factor to consider in the album’s enjoyment. That factor is the variety of lyrical themes that run through the album. As [Fred] Estby noted in an interview with Terrorizer magazine, the influences behind the songs’ lyrical themes come from a number of sources. Those sources include the news, novels, and even lyrics from contemporaries such as Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler, and Blue Oyster Cult. That means that unlike so many rock bands out there, The Dagger tries its best to avoid the standard themes of relationships. Rather the themes on this album vary just as widely as the band’s musical influences. It’s a breath of fresh air, considering just how many bands even in today’s world of hard rock and heavy metal base their songs on that standard fare. That factor, alongside the album’s overall sound and production values make this record, once again, one that any purist rocker and metal head will enjoy just as much the fiftieth time around as the fifth.

The Dagger will be available in the U.S. Tuesday, July 22nd and June 30th in Europe.  It will be released both domestically and internationally via Century Media Records. The Dagger is currently scheduled to perform live September 18th and 19th in Stockholm Sweden as part of Close-Up Magazine’s Close-Up Baten Festival. Until then, audiences can keep up with the latest news and more from The Dagger through its official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/daggerofficial. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock Announces Release Date, Track Listing For New Dio Live Recording

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Eagle Records

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Eagle Records

Eagle Rock Entertainment has announced the details for its latest release.

Dio: Live in London Hammersmith Apollo 1993 will be available for the first time ever on Tuesday, May 13th. The archived concert will be made available to audiences on DVD, SD Blu-ray, 2CD and digital formats. Audiences can get a sneak peek at what can be expected from this long-awaited release online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEFcFGJBQzA&list=UUp0uxdUViQ2LTAqRePby68g.

The upcoming release captures the final performance of Dio’s European tour in support of the band’s album Strange Highways. Dio was joined by band mates Vinny Appice (drums), Jeff Pilson (bass), Tracy G (guitar), and Scott Warren (keyboards) for the tour. The show covers Dio’s body of work from his days with Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and even in his own band. Those hits include: ‘Holy Diver’, ‘Rainbow in the Dark’, ‘Strange Highways’, ‘Stand Up An Shout’, ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’, ‘Heaven And Hell’, and ‘We Rock’ among others. The performance is presented in DTS Surround Sound, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby Digital. The full track listing for the recording is listed below.

TRACK LISTING:

1) Stand Up And Shout

2) Strange Highways

3) Don’t Talk To Strangers

4) Evilution

5) Pain

6) The Mob Rules

7) Children Of The Sea

8) Holy Diver

9) Heaven And Hell

10) Man On The Silver Mountain

11) Drum Solo

12) Heaven And Hell (reprise)

13) Jesus, Mary & The Holy Ghost

14) Hollywood Black

15) The Last In Line

16) Rainbow In The Dark

17) We Rock

18) Here’s To You

 

As an added bonus for audiences, the DVD and SD Blu-ray presentations offer a special Behind-The-Scenes feature titled ‘Hangin’ With The Band.’

More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt and http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

This Is Your Life Is Not Just Another Throw-Away Tribute Album

Courtesy:  Rhino Records

Courtesy: Rhino Records

Tribute albums are a dime a dozen. So many tribute albums are released each year that one can’t help but feel that the labels that release them care more about their bottom line than about actually celebrating said artists being given tribute. That being the case, one can’t help but wonder why This Is Your Life, the new tribute album to iconic rock front man Ronnie James Dio, would be any different from those records. The answer to that is not a simple one. One reason that this tribute album stands out is the list of performers and bands that recorded songs for the compilation. It’s a who’s who of hard rock from the past, present, and even future of the genre. Another reason that this compilation stands out is its track listing. This record boasts some of the most beloved songs of RJD’s career. And last but definitely not least important to consider in this record is the fact that it isn’t just a means for the label distributing it to make money. It actually doubles as a fundraiser for RJD’s Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund. So it’s actually a record crafted to essentially help give back. How many bands, artists, groups, etc. can say that they have crafted an entire album simply to raise funds for charity? That–along with the list of songs and performers, bands, etc. on this album–makes This Is Your Life an album that stands well above the rest of the otherwise throw-away albums claiming to be tribute albums.

Courtesy:  Rhino Records

Courtesy: Rhino Records

The primary aspect of This Is Your Life that makes it stand out against all of the other tribute albums out there is the list of performers drafted to record songs for the record. The list of performers drafted for this record is a who’s who of hard rock’s past, present, and even future. It wasn’t just a mish-mash of bands, artists and groups tossed together. Everybody tapped to record for this tribute record is either a counterpart to RJD or someone that grew up idolizing him and his talents. Veterans such as Anthrax, Motorhead, Scorpions, Biff Byford, and Rob Halford perform alongside younger acts such as Adrenaline Mob, Killswitch Engage, and Halestorm over the course of the record’s fourteen total tracks. That collection of bands and artists singing Dio’s hits is in itself a musical history lesson. It introduces younger audiences that might be more familiar with the latter grouping of bands and artists to the veterans and to the music of Dio. To that extent, This Is Your Life quickly earns major points. Even more points come from the sampling of Dio’s music in question chosen for this compilation.

The list of bands, artists, and groups tapped to record RJD’s music for This Is Your Life is in itself a major boon for the record. As noted, it isn’t just a mish-mash of bands, artists, and groups. It is a collection of bands, group, and artists that played alongside Dio during his career, and those that have come since, growing up with the music of Ronnie James Dio. In short, it’s a collection of individuals that have the utmost respect for Dio and his music. Speaking of that music, the songs chosen to be included on this record are another part of the whole that makes it so enjoyable for listeners. Every song on this record is a classic in its own way. From the more well-known pieces such as ‘The Mob Rules’, ‘Neon Knights’ and ‘Holy Diver’ to slightly lesser known songs such as ‘Straight Through The Heart’, Egypt (The Chains Are On’, and ‘Temple of the King’ This Is Your Life does quite the job of chronicling the career of a man that was and is still even in death, one of the greatest vocalists and performers in the history of hard rock.

The music and performers chosen for This Is Your Life are both key components of the success of the album. As important as they are to the success of the record, there is still one central aspect of the recording that makes it so worth picking up. That aspect is the fact that a certain portion of the sales of the album will go to benefit Dio’s Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, which was established by Dio’s wife Wendy Dio. Bands, groups and artists go out on tour every year or they take part in fundraising concerts. How many artists can say they were part of a recording project that was also meant as a way to pay tribute to one of their own, too? It’s just like bringing home a hard rock festival without having to pay the exorbitant prices for tickets, souvenirs, sodas and more. And at the same time, audiences that purchase the album will actually be helping to fund an organization that works to research and promote awareness of cancer, as well as educate people about early detection in hopes of one day stopping it.

This Is Your Life is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Ronnie-James-Dio-This-Your/dp/B00IACUO8S/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1396440364&sr=1-1&keywords=dio+this+is+your+life and can be downloaded via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/ronnie-james-dio-this-is-your/id829325064.

More information on Ronnie James Dio, This Is Your Life and other RJD releases is available online at http://www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio and http://www.ronniejamesdio.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock’s Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert Re-Issue An Amazing Way To Finish Off The Year

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Freddie Mercury, the late front man of the legendary rock band Queen, was in his time one of the single most charismatic vocalists in the music industry.  Many vocalists have tried to emulate the legendary singer’s energy and style.  Few if any have succeeded.  Sadly, Freddy Mercury was taken from the world in 1991, one of so many victims of the then emerging AIDS epidemic.  The music world paid tribute to his legacy and memory in 1992 with a special live tribute concert.  The concert, held at London’s Wembley Stadium has become one of the biggest and most  powerful live concert events of the Twentieth Century, even after more than two decades since it was originally held.  The only concert event that could compare to this event is Woodstock ’94.  And now thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment, the legacy of Freddie Mercury lives on once again thanks to the Blu-ray release of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.  While this SD Blu-ray release of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert is not the first time that the concert has been released to the masses, this release is the concert’s best yet.    There is so much to be said of this latest re-issue.  The best place to start is the overall audio and video presentation.  Those charged with resurrecting the original footage are to be commended as the concert is presented here in its full original glory.  Audiences get to see the show as it looked in its original recording.  The audio sounds just as good.  This is especially the case for those with home theater systems.  The cinematography is incredible to say the least.  The crowd shots and shots of the crowd from the stage are collectively the epitome of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.  And of course, there is also the show’s set list and list of performers.  Both by themselves and collectively, they make a bold statement that puts the finishing touch on this incredible latest re-issue from Eagle Rock Entertainment.

The first and most obvious factor to investigate in Eagle Rock’s new re-issue of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert is the audio and video mix.  This concert was recorded almost twenty-two years ago.  April 20th, 2014 will mark the twenty-second anniversary of this landmark concert.  Being that high definition recording was still years away when this concert was recorded, it’s obvious that the quality of the footage would not be crystal clear in this presentation.  But Eagle Rock openly noted on the recording’s case that this presentation is a Standard Definition Blu-ray.  That means that Eagle Rock openly notes that the presentation contained therein is a standard definition recording.  Those expecting pure 1080 quality video have only misled themselves.  Eagle Rock Entertainment is not to blame here.  That the footage still looks as good as it does over two decades later is a testament to those charged with maintaining and resurrecting it.  And having the option to set one’s TV to “Cinema” to gain the full concert video experience only serves to make it even better.

The quality of the concert’s video footage is impressive to say the very least.  It is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio.  Though, with the advent of high definition televisions, most viewers can set their monitors to present the concert in full “Cinema” mode.  That mode shows better than any how well the footage has stood the test of time.  The audio mix is just as impressive as the video in terms of its quality.  Every riff, every beat, and every chorus from the crowd of thousands is enhanced on this re-issue.  In comparison to the concert’s previous releases, the audio mix has never sounded better.  It has been enhanced so much that at times, the echoes of Brian May’s voice as he talked will make audiences think they are actually there in person.  It has been mixed that well.  That is quite the testament to those charged with restoring this concert to its former glory.  And along with the footage, it is one part of a very strong cornerstone of this recording.

The video and audio mixes serve collectively as a solid base for The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.  The concert’s cinematography adds an extra element of enjoyment to the recording, too.  Much as was the case with Eagle Rock’s release of The Rolling Stones’ Hyde Park Live this Fall, the camera shots obtained over the course of this concert are extraordinary.  There is something to be said about an entire stadium full of people singing in unison, arms high in the air, clapping in time. The visual effect both from the stage and from high above the sea of bodies is something that cannot be put into words.  It is something that must be seen to be fully appreciated.  Even seeing the shots in question from one’s own sofa, bed, etc. is awe inspiring.  They collectively go to show the love that so many people had for Freddie Mercury and for Queen.  While the concert’s audio and video mixes are the foundation on which the concert rests, the shots obtained by the camera crews give the show its shape.  And what a shape those crews give the concert.

As one should be able to tell from everything noted already, there is much to like about Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new re-issue of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on SD Blu-ray.  Much has already been examined with this latest release from the leader in live recordings.  But it would not be complete without making mention of the concert’s set list and its equally diverse lineup of performers.  The show itself is set up into two separate segments.  The first of those segments is the “Opening Acts” segment.  This segment allows some of the acts tapped to perform at the concert to perform their own music and warm up the crowd at the same time.  This segment runs the gamut to say the very least.  It opens with a trio of songs from Metallica and follows that up with a medley of Queen hits courtesy of Extreme.  Guns N’ Roses (the original Guns N’ Roses) closes out the opening acts segments.  Def Leppard is also one of the opening acts.  Their front man, Joe Elliot, joins Elton John, George Michael, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, and so many other acts from across the music industry for the “Main Show” segment of the recording.  Having such a wide array of artists covering the music of one band is a bold statement.  It shows the impact that Queen had on them as bands and artists.  It also goes to show the respect that those bands and artists had for Freddie Mercury.  It goes to show the kind of person he was and how important he was to so many around him.  Keeping that in mind while watching the incredible shots, and hearing the equally incredible song selections is sure to bring a smile and maybe even a tear to some viewers’ faces.  If it does one, the other, or both, then it has most certainly done its job.  It means that Eagle Rock is that much more justified in once again unearthing this important piece of music history.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other live recordings from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Blackmore’s Rainbow Rocks In New Archived Live Show

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Eagle Rock Entertainment has built quite the reputation over the years as one of the leaders in live recordings.  Releases from the likes of Queen, The Rolling Stones, and even Slipknot and Stone Temple Pilots last year show why Eagle Rock has justifiably earned that reputation.  Already, Eagle Rock has maintained that reputation in 2013 with even more top notch live recordings already released and more on the way.  Among the most anticipated recordings to come are the likes of Dream Theater’s Live at Luna Park and The Rolling Stones’ Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live.  Getting back to already released live recordings, one of the most notable of Eagle Rock’s most recent live recordings released in 2013 is the newly released Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow: Black Masquerade.  This DVD recording was released just a couple of weeks ago.  And it’s one that was well worth the wait for any purist fan of rock and roll.

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow: Black Masquerade is a great live recording from the band’s post Ronnie James Die lineup.  It was originally recorded in 1995 at Dusseldorf’s famed Rockpalast TV series.  Considering that nearly two decades have passed since this concert was originally recorded, those responsible for uncovering the footage and transferring it to DVD are to be commended.  Both the audio and video quality of the concert is impressive to say the least.  They are both just as clear as they must have been in the show’s original recording if not better than said recording.  Director Gerd F. Schultze is deserving of credit here, too.  It was under Schultze’s watch that audiences catch the band’s nonstop energy and enjoyment from start to finish of the roughly ninety-minute-plus concert.

The quality of the footage in its transfer from tape to disc plays a big part in the success of this recording’s overall success.  It’s not all that audiences will appreciate here, either.  Just as much as fans will appreciate the quality of the show’s footage in its transfer, fans will also appreciate the performance itself.  Blackmore breezes through the show, exhibiting his abilities as both a modern guitarist and even as a classical guitarist.  He proves why he was still considered one of the industry’s most respected guitarists at the time as he made his way effortlessly through each song.  That’s not to say that he isn’t still considered one of the greats today.  It just serves to show that even after so many years with Deep Purple, there was still plenty of fire left in him at the time.  Suffice it to say that it is in its own way, a tribute to him and his abilities.  He isn’t the only member of the band that gets to shine in this concert, either.  Singer Doogie White is a fitting replacement for RJD.  His vocals soar with such power from one song to another.  And his interaction with both the band and the audience in attendance helps to build the show’s overall energy.  One would be remiss to ignore the talents of keyboardist Paul Morris and Chuck Burgi here.  Morris is right up there with the likes of Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) and so many others of that ilk in his performance.  And Burgi’s drumming is classic rock at its finest.  From his over the top outfit to his talents and showmanship, he plays his own part in bringing fans a memorable show.

The performance by the post RJD lineup of Rainbow is in itself more than enough to make buying or ordering this new DVD well worth it.  The talent of each member of the band shows true musicianship all the way around.  And the set list that spans both the Deep Purple and Rainbow catalogue adds another element of enjoyment to the show.  And then there is the quality of the footage in its transfer from tape to disc.  All of these aspects work hand-in-hand so to speak to make Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow: Black Masquerade one more impressive piece from Eagle Rock Entertainment.  There is one more factor to be considered in the presentation’s overall enjoyment.  It’s a factor to which most people don’t pay attention but should.  It is the included liner notes in the DVD’s bonus booklet.  Writer Jeff Katz puts it even better than this critic could have in the liner notes, that “what we see in this concert is a band firing on all cylinders.”  Katz goes into painstaking song-by-song detail in his liner notes, explaining why this recording was such an important performance to be unearthed.  In doing so, he explains to audiences that in examining this release, he had to look back at his own experiences in seeing Rainbow live in person.  Those ruminations do an excellent job of setting up his take on each song.  All together, his analysis is more than just an analysis.  It’s like a program for a rock concert.  Audiences can almost read each song’s notes as each song plays, and get a better understanding of each opus.  Together with the other mentioned factors to consider in this recording, it turns out to be the icing on the proverbial cake.  It makes the performance whole and all the more worth picking up now that it is available in stores and online.  It can be ordered from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DPH7QFM/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1CF1TH81AXSD69D1EDKF&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846.

For more information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment, audiences can go online to http://www.eagle-rock.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Dio Re-Issue A Hard Rocking Tribute To A Rock Legend

Courtesy:  Niji Entertainment

Courtesy: Niji Entertainment

Concept albums are typically reserved for the realm of rock music that is progressive rock.  Bands the likes of Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, and The Flower Kings have been largely linked to concept albums through rock’s history.  Apparently during his lifetime, nobody had sent this message to rock icon Ronnie James Dio; either that or he got the message and didn’t care.  Regardless of which argument holds more truth, the ultimate truth is that Dio proved that commonly held belief to be entirely untrue with the release of his groundbreaking album, Magica.  Now thanks to Niji Entertainment, Dio’s ever growing legion of fans can experience this work once more.

Over a decade has passed since Magica was originally released on Spitfire Records.  And three years have now passed since the world lost Ronnie James Dio.  In the time since RJD’s passing, a lot has changed in the music industry.  Thankfully, Niji Entertainment has re-issued this landmark album and reminded audiences that it is still possible for rock to be more than down-tuned guitars and indecipherable cookie monster growls.  It is a true treat for Dio fans of all ages.  The album’s new deluxe re-issue offers the original story of Magicka completely restored and sounding as good as ever.  The soaring string instrumentations that accompany the band add a beautiful counterpart to the band’s heaviness throughout the record.  And Dio’s vocals were in prime form on this record, as long-time fans will attest. 

The primary disc’s re-issue is outstanding to say the least.  But the real treat of Magica is the deluxe edition’s bonus disc.  The bonus disc is anchored by RJD himself reading ‘The Magica Story.’  Instead of the full on rock opera that is Magica audiences get Dio serving as storyteller.  The style with which he reads the story leaves listeners hanging on his every word.  It conjures thoughts of Trans Siberian Orchestra.  And being that this legendary singer is sadly no longer with us, hearing him personally reading the story is a wonderful memorial to Dio’s memory.  And since the story is printed out in the booklet included with the re-issue, they can even follow along as he reads the story verbatim.  There are no attempts at bad voices or any other over the top moves.  It is just RJD with a calm music bed as he reads the story.  The manner in which he recites the story’s final lines is wonderful.  He is about to start the next story but instantly cuts himself off, laughing as he says, “That’s another story.”  It makes the whole experience of listening to this record more personal for lack of better wording.  It is just part of what makes the re-issue’s second disc a true bonus.  For that matter, it makes one wonder what Magic 2 and 3 would have sounded like.  Luckily, listeners get a hint of that on the bonus track, ‘Electra’ that is also included on this re-issue.

The reading of ‘The Magica’ Story by Ronnie James Dio himself is a wonderful continuation from the musical story contained on the re-issue’s main disc.  The included bonus tracks and live bootlegs make the second disc even more of a bonus.  Considering that they are called “bootlegs”, the term bootleg should be taken very lightly.  This is a good thing in this case.  That is because the audio quality of the live “bootlegs” here far exceeds that of what one would think when one thinks of the term, “bootleg.”  The bonus studio tracks complete the package, musically speaking.  ‘Electra’ gives a pretty good hint at the later story that Dio references in this story.  It makes one wonder if he perhaps had some manuscripts tucked away somewhere that as is the case with certain late authors have yet to see the light of day.  It’s a nice heavy piece that continues the style established in Magica.  ‘Annica’ is equally intriguing in that it bears what some could argue to be Pink Floyd influences, in terms of the guitar parts.  That in itself is enough to make for even more discussion.  And it is that discussion that helps to make this record’s re-issue an even more completely enjoyable listen that will grow with each listen.  The record is available in stores and online now.

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Rainbow Live Re-Issue A Welcome Return For A New Generation Of Audiences

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Long live Eagle Rock Entertainment.  That’s what fans of classic rock group Rainbow will be saying after experiencing the band’s newly re-issued recording, Live in Munich 1977.  This classic concert was originally released to DVD in 2006.  Now seven years later, it’s available once again for a whole new generation of purist rock and roll fans to enjoy.  And it goes without saying that this is quite the performance.  It is available now on DVD, 2CD, digital audio and digital video, and even vinyl for older audiences with a certain sense of nostalgia. 

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Records

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Records

The classic lineup of Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple), Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath, Dio), Bob Daisley (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Dio, Uriah Heep)  and Cozy Powell (The Jeff Beck Group, Whitesnake, ELP, Black Sabbath, etc.) came together for what is one of the single most epic concerts of this band’s career.  It’s also the only full live show ever filmed that featured this lineup.  And what a show it was.  It is yet more evidence of everything that once was right with rock and roll.  This is not just some rock and roll concert.  Rainbow Live in Munich 1977 is a rock and roll experience.  The show’s shortest song is four minutes and forty-two seconds long.  The longest comes in at a whopping twenty-seven minutes and thirty-three seconds.  So it is not for those with short attention spans.  The songs in between are hardly short, either.  And that is perfectly fine.  The audio (CD/Digital audio) portion makes for great driving music for classic rock fans, especially with the weather having turned warm.  The video portion (DVD/Digital video) is just as enjoyable to pop into one’s DVD/Blu-ray player.  Those with home theater systems will especially appreciate the surround sound experience of this show. 

Speaking of the overall concert experience one would be remiss to ignore the overall performance presented by Rainbow in this recorded concert.  Both Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio showed why they were and are two of the most respected individuals in the music community to this day.  RJD no longer being with us, this concert serves as a testament to his vocal abilities, even though his vocals are somewhat overpowered by the rest of the band at times.  When he cuts through though, RJD really cuts through and shows why he remains one of the best singers in the rock business today.  Blackmore’s chops on the guitar are second to none throughout the show.  This is especially the case on the anthem, ‘Love Live Rock ‘n’ Roll.’  He and the rest of the band put on a virtual clinic with this song that was brand new at that point.  It’s such a simple song.  Yet somehow, Blackmore with his solos and Cozy Powell with his solid time keeping make this one of the show’s highest of highs.  On a side note, seeing Cozy Powell playing with the traditional grip is just as incredible.  When one thinks of drummers using the traditional grip, the most common association made is with jazz, not so much rock music.  There are those that did and do today.  But their numbers are few.  So for the drumming community, this, along with Powell’s solid time keeping makes the performance even more enjoyable. It’s just one of so many examples that could be pulled from the show that make it such a joy to experience whether one is hearing Rainbow for the first time or fiftieth.

Rainbow showed that it could really bring down the house with a number such as ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll.’  It also showed its versatility on the equally bluesy ‘Man on the Silver Mountain.’  This sixteen-minute plus opus had its own slower jam session moment that is just as incredible as anything that any of today’s blues musicians could churn out.  It’s also one of the moments when RJD really got the opportunity to showcase his powerhouse vocals.  And did he ever?  His vocals soar on this performance.  And even after this song ended Dio showed again why he was and is one of rock’s best front men.  Here was this larger than life figure.  Yet on stage, he seemed so down to Earth and so humble.  Seeing the rapport that he had with the audience in comparison to the myth surrounding him is so eye opening and refreshing.  He shows that he was a rock star’s rock star.  He showed he didn’t have an ego and that he appreciated having the chance to do what he did; even more proof of the importance of RJD as an artist.  And the band fed off of that energy, too, making this whole concert such a joy to look back on.

The concert contained on the DVD and double-disc CD are both wonderful additions to the home library of any classic rock fan or any fan of pure, guitar driven rock music.  This latest re-issue boasts more than just a concert though.  Adding to the overall enjoyment of the performance are bonus interviews with Bob Daisley and Colin Hart, as well as an interesting recording of the band performing in Texas the year prior.  The interviews with Daisley and Hart are entertaining to say the least.  During his interview, Daisley tells an anecdote about going driving with one of the other band members.  This little story is sure to make for some laughs.  He also tells his side of how the band came to be and much more.  What else is discussed, audiences will have to find out for themselves when they pick up the DVD.  Hart’s interview is just as entertaining, and at other times candid.  This is especially the case when he is asked to share his thoughts on drummer Cozy Powell.  It’s obvious in hearing him talk that this was a difficult topic to touch on.  Fans will take away a lot from this and Hart’s other thoughts on fellow band member Ronnie James Dio, as well as his thoughts on the band’s success and other topics. 

If the bonus interviews aren’t enough for fans, then maybe the bonus promo videos and the included booklet in the DVD package will impress audiences, too.  The booklet included in the DVD outlines the history of Rainbow from its formation to the replacement of Dio, Daisley, and Stone.  It’s just one more extra piece that fills this small package with so much to appreciate.  The bonus videos included in this recording are actual full performances of the songs ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’, ‘Gates of Babylon’, and ‘L.A. Connection.’  They aren’t just little snippets of the songs.  If all of this set alongside an already impressive full live performance isn’t enough for fans, then fans that don’t appreciate everything included here either don’t have a pulse or aren’t real fans to begin with.  Keeping this in mind, this latest re-issue is one more incredibly jam packed live release that is more than worth every watch.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online from the Eagle Rock Entertainment website at http://www.eagle-rock.com/product/EV306049/Live+in+Munich.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.